pain, sharing the story, community, and missing church

And the servant said, “Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.” Then the master said to the servant, “Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled.” – Luke 14:22-23

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flowers from friends

I have a lot of stuff I could write about this afternoon. John’s excellent message at church, the helpful discussion we had around Christ’s Transfiguration in my discipleship class, or some important thoughts I’ve been exploring regarding the relationship of freedom to trust.

Those are all worthwhile, but the most important piece of reporting I can offer comes from the poignant sense of frustration and disappointment Rebekah is feeling today because she wasn’t able to be in church with the community she loves so deeply.

PAIN HURTS: This is important for several reasons. First, because it comments on the extent to which severe pain can impact every detail of life. We often discount the cost of pain because it is difficult to imagine in someone else, because it is so personal. Pain is not something you can see on an MRI – even though I looked at Rebekah’s imaging, and I could see exactly where her disk is, how it impacts her spine, and what it is doing.

Pain beyond a tolerable threshold is completely debilitating. Pain arrests movement, it demolishes rest, it alters metabolism, it affects thinking. This is not me being morose, or gloomy, so much as it is a PSA (public service announcement). We likely see people in pain every day – both physical and emotional – and yet we tend to evaluate every interaction through the perspective of our own demands, or own wants, our own agenda, our own self focus.

Recognizing the reality of other people’s pain can go a long way toward contributing to their healing.

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Rebekah with the kids

COMMUNITY: Then, Rebekah’s reaction to missing worship today reminds me of how wonderful it is to be in a vibrant community of faith. According to recent Gallup reports, less than twenty percent of Americans attend church with any regularity. People don’t believe or understand that they’re missing out, because they don’t have any reference point to compare with! “Oh, they’ll come back to church when they start to miss it,” is irrelevant for 80% of the population!

Being a committed part of a worshiping, loving, serving community of believers is a beautiful and nourishing experience. But people who haven’t experienced this kind of community won’t miss it when they don’t come! Therefore it is incumbent on those of us who know enough to miss church like crazy when we’re not there, to do all we can to share this richness, this joy, this connection with God with all the creative imagination we can muster.

If you have more than enough food and there are people starving, then you invite them in to eat; it’s a no-brainer. There are people starving for meaning, and purpose, and joy – a restored relationship with God – and we have the words of eternal life…

Many of Jesus’ disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life….” – John 6:66-68

I pray all people understand that a beautiful expression of God’s nurturing love is waiting for them in their local church. Fact is, it will be that much better because you are there.

You don’t have to wait until you first believe, you simply have to come home.

God life relationships The Church

derekmaul View All →

Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there's always something new in the works.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor's degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.

Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men's Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.

3 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I do so appreciate your post. You are a very good writer and you have lined out some excellent thoughts. Your post compelled me to add a comment. First, my regrets and a sincere prayer to the one you know who is in pain. I, too, have known intense pain—I am a cancer survivor—still surviving in spite of the consequences of having fought a hard disease. Secondly, regarding church attendance, your description of church attendance is ideally how it should be and you are blessed to know a loving congregation. Not all church groups are like that, however, and it’s probably why there is such low church attendance currently (in reference to your statistics). Some people have been very hurt by those who they consider their church family. Sin is rampant in and out of church, of course, but one would hope that inside the walls of a church building, the standards would be higher and, well, just different, if you go by what the Bible says about Christians—being set apart, being “peculiar,” and so on. The lines between the “world” and “church” are more fuzzy now than ever, in my opinion. As Christians, we must keep our guards up, use the whole armor of God, and utilize our spirits of discernment, whether considering a church to attend or considering any group or persons we may want to affiliate ourselves with. As Christians, we ARE the church—it’s time that we start behaving like it, no matter WHERE we are or where we choose to worship, study scripture and/or fellowship with other believers.

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    • Thanks, Susan. Prayers for your continued recovery and ongoing struggle with cancer.
      And, you are exactly right about the church. This is something I talk about quite often, and it is such a sad and prevelant fact that Christ’s most fundamental command is so often ignored (“It’s how you love one another that tells the truth about my gospel”).
      Peace and blessings – DEREK

      Liked by 1 person

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